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April 04, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-04

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 4, 2005

OPINION

I& A- Ak

JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON Go
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
He was such a
brilliant light for
the world."
- Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles,
praising the life of Pope John Paul II, who
passed away this past Saturday, as reported
yesterday by The Associated Press.

SAM BUTLER ThE So cx

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ELLIOTT MALLEN .RRATION AL EXUBERANCE

Margaret Wong
has a vision.
The co-chair
of Friends of the Ann
Arbor Greenway and
:#' self-described accidental
activist envisions cutting
a swath of green through
the heart of Ann Arbor -
creating a continuous strip
of parkland stretching from the Huron River
to the University Golf Course. This vision
involves converting three pieces of prime
downtown real estate into parkland in order
to facilitate the creation of a linear Central.
Park-style strip of green. Sadly, the Ann Arbor
Greenway is a half-baked proposal that falls
short of its promise to support a supposedly
eco-friendly city. Keeping downtown density
low by snapping up property in order to make
Ann Arbor feel more green is an unsustainable
plan that will only stunt the city's vibrancy and
lead to more urban sprawl.
The Downtown Development Authority's
counterproposal involves building a five-deck
parking structure on one of the contested lots,
as well as a medium-rise building that would
place an additional 200 housing units down-
town - adding to the area's density. The orga-
nization recognizes the importance of building
up the city's downtown in order to enhance its
vitality and staunch the spread of sprawling
subdivisions on the outskirts of town. After
all, Ann Arbor already has 154 parks, many of
which remain perennially underutilized.
The DDA is facing a substantial public rela-
tions problem among Ann Arbor residents, as
parking garages and condos lack the emotional
appeal of green space. "People have done a
very good job of making this a black-and-white
issue," says DDA board member and Arbor
Brewing Company owner Rene Greff. "Being
against parks is like being against puppies.
Who is going to be against that?"
This sentimental attachment to green space
has won over a substantial number of Ann
Arbor's residents. Wong's Friends of the Ann
Arbor Greenway is circulating a petition that

has gathered more than 600 signatures, and
the March 21 City Council meeting was with
packed with militant Greenway supporters who
openly booed those who spoke on behalf of the
DDA's proposal. Ann Arbor resident Steven
Tutino went so far as to suggest that "next to
landfills and war zones, parking garages are the
worst use of our precious Earth." What he fails
to acknowledge is that by impeding growth in
the city center, expansion is pushed elsewhere.
The most environmentally sustainable place to
build housing in Ann Arbor is downtown, where
high density will promote a pedestrian-friendly
environment and discourage the expansion of
subdivisions in neighboring Saline or Dexter. By
Tutino's logic, if parking garages are indeed as
unpleasant as landfills and war zones, the waste-
land of cul-de-sacs and oversized ranch houses
that are symptomatic of urban sprawl must be
the aesthetic equivalent of one of the lower cir-
cles of hell. Urban planning student Dan Ken-
nelly says in The Ann Arbor News that "waving
a banner of environmentalism to pursue policies
motivated by self-interest undermines sincere
efforts toward sustainability," meaning that the
warm, Earth-friendly feeling that comes from
having a big park downtown doesn't outweigh
the negative environmental consequences of the
subsequent profusion of suburbs elsewhere.
Despite the potentially crippling effects of
halting downtown expansion, Greenway propo-
nents claim that it is necessary in order to save
the city from stagnation. One resident, Barbara
Annis, decries the proposal to increase density
by saying that "if Ann Arbor loses its people
friendliness through overbuilding, it will quick-
ly become another tired Midwest town."
Ann Arbor News columnist Sonia Schmerl
paints the Greenway as an instant cure-all for all
of the city's ills, as it will magically "create jobs,
enhance property values, expand local business-
es, attract new or relocating businesses, increase
local tax revenues, decrease local government
expenditures and promote a local community."
Others say that there is no need to cater to
the educated young people who are attracted
to the cosmopolitan lifestyle associated with
high density. Matthew DeGenaro, another Ann

Arbor resident, says that the necessity of yuppies
is exaggerated and that "we should be trying to
attract more wealthy retirees to live here." He
invokes Las Vegas, that paragon of sustainable
living, saying that "it has a tremendous growth
rate based on retiree wealth.
Don't old people deserve "cool," too?
Perhaps most importantly, the restrictions on
downtown housing that go hand-in-hand with
the Greenway would further insulate Ann Arbor
from the real world, as the already-restric-
tive cost of housing would only increase. Ann
Arbor has the unfortunate reputation as south-
east Michigan's elitist stronghold, and making
it even more difficult to find affordable housing
would only reinforce this image. A Greenway
would exclusively serve those who are already
wealthy enough to live in Ann Arbor, while the
DDA is proposing to open up the city to those
who otherwise lack access by increasing the
supply of downtown housing.
Some residents are searching for creative
compromises that would maintain a green feel-
ing while accommodating development. One
proposal is to put a park on top of the proposed
parking structure so that residents could still
have a place downtown to play frisbee, even if it
is a few dozen feet above the sidewalk. One res-
ident even proposed combing a parking struc-
ture with a rock-climbing wall whose "natural
textures and contours" would "soften the visual
impact" of such a blight. One might argue that
the lack of affordable housing or even a viable
pedestrian-friendly grocery is a more pressing
concern than the lack of a downtown climbing
wall. Nonetheless, the versatility on the part of
some residents is encouraging. These alterna-
tives show that it's possible to turn something as
drab and mundane as a parking structure into a
usable recreational area, and they are certainly
preferable to outright rejection of anything even
resembling development. There's no reason Ann
Arbor can't become a more aesthetically pleas-
ing city without dropping an ultimately harmful
Greenway through its center.

Mallen can be reached at
emmallen@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

UAC did not encroach on
E3Ws editorial freedom
To THE DAnLY:
In last Thursday's article (E3W Content Criti-
cized, 03/31/2005), the Daily asserted that First
Amendment issues were raised because of the
interaction between the University Activities Center
and the Every Three Weekly. This assertion stems
from the Daily's lack of understanding of UAC's
structure. UAC was chartered by the University
Board of Regents in 1965 to provide the campus
with student-led and produced programming. We
currently fulfill this mission through 15 commit-
tees. Each committee is given virtual autonomy
in its undertakings. All committees are in equal
standing within UAC and together they make up
UAC. The executive board is an extension of all
of the committees and serves to organize and sup-
port the committees, as well as coordinate UAC's
finances. UAC and the E3W are one and the same.
Any censorship undertaken by UAC (There has
been none, and there are no plans for any in the
future.) would be an act of self-censorship.
Despite my explaining this structure to the
Daily and it being laid out in UAC's constitution,
the Daily chose to publish its article that makes
contrary assumptions. To provide an accurate pic-
ture of the events in question, I offer a summary of
what occurred.
As president of UAC, I stand behind all of our
committees and serve as both spokesman for all
of UAC and, when need be, defender of its prod-
ucts and productions. In this capacity, I met with
the Athletic Department. It had voiced a concern
about the E3W's depiction of student athletes and
their actions, and I felt meeting with them was the
action of a responsible student organization that
was proud of its product, while sensitive to the
concerns of the campus community. I asked the
E3W's editor in chief to join me in the meeting
to shed light on editorial processes with which I
was not familiar. The Athletic Department voiced
its perception of callousness on the E3W's behalf

vide the campus with the smiles and laughter that
accompany it. UAC shares the Daily's concern
about the First Amendment, because we do not
want to lose the protection it provides. For more
information about UAC and all of its committees
please visit www.umich.edu/-uac.
Mark Hindelang
LSA senior
The letter writer is the president of UAC.
E3Ws content is not unbe-
comiung' to the community
To THE DAILY:
Without getting into the foreboding implica-
tions of an official University committee meeting
to "discuss" student newspaper content, I'd just
like to disagree with Michael Stevenson's charge
that the Every Three Weekly's content is "unbe-
coming" to our community.
While skewering student Michael Phelps's
alleged zeal for his female classmates may not
exactly match the satirical caliber of Chaucer or
Swift, the E3W's got a likable bawdy insolence
that enlivens this campus. We live in an era of
increasing anxiety and elastic civil rights, and so
thank goodness the E3W is around to stir (and
crack) us up. Long may it misbehave.
Nicholas Allen Harp
English lecturer
Daity is misir nz rand
about school re fo)m
To Tm DAilY:
Your interest in school reform in Michigan
is commendable (Saving schools, 04/01/2005).
Your command of the facts is lamentable.
First of all, Carmen Park Elementary School
is not in the city of Flint. It is in the Car-
men-Ainsworth District, which is not without
troubles of its own, but nevertheless is a pre-

Ainsworth - have done it previously under the
rubric of "learning communities."
Third, you commit the logical fallacy of
the "strawperson argument" - the invocation
of the archetypal teacher who has been doing
the same thing the same way for 20 years, who
belongs to a union resistant to change. The
teachers of Flint - the real Flint - have incor-
porated many good ideas and many fads into
practice over the years and have been advised
by researchers from well-known universities, in
and out of state. Most recently, we have been
mentored by Harlem educators who founded
their own academies outside of the New York
public schools to accomplish their goals but
expect us to move mountains within our given
system. Moreover, our union is rather weak in
enforcing quality of worklife issues and rules.
I personally had far better working conditions
when I was a nonunion teacher in another state.
So, take your interest in school reform out
of well-meaning, misinformed editorials and
bring it to urban areas like Flint or Detroit. By
all means, do not go to the School of Educa-
tion. Join Teach for America, pay your dues
in the trenches, come back ready for another
career and then we'll talk.
Catherine Meza
The letter writer is an instructor in the
Flint Community Schools.
LETTERS POLICY
N The Michigan Daily welcomes letters
from all of its readers. Letters from University
students, faculty, staff and administrators will
be given priority over others. Letters should
include the writer's name, college and school
year or other University affiliation. The Daily
will not print any letter containing statements
that cannot be verified.
Letters should be kept to approxi-
mately 300 words. The Michigan Daily

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